Editorial: Respecting the LGBTQ+ people

Editorial art by enrico Santisas
Editorial art by enrico Santisas

A bill supported by the LGBTQ+ advocates has hit a snag in the Senate after Joel Villanueva, the Senate majority leader, moved for the upper chamber to further review the measure. This legislation is the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression or Sogie, which aims to protect members of the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and other gender identities from discrimination and hate crimes.

Villanueva apparently moved to delay the passage of the Sogie Bill during the Senate plenary session on Monday, Feb. 13, 2023 by sending it to the Committee on Rules which he chairs for further study.

Some of the things that the senator had said about the bill include that it will prevent people from reading the Bible and exercising their faith, its “bottomline” is same-sex marriage—meaning the bill could open the doors to such kind of marriage in the Philippines, and it will violate religious beliefs.

Sogie Equality Bill supporter Sen. Risa Hontiveros has debunked some of Villanueva’s claims. On the issue of same-sex marriage, Hontiveros has said that “this is not the bill (Sogie) that will grant marriage licenses. It is that simple and that clear. In fact, marriage licenses are explicitly excluded in the committee report.”

Same-sex marriage still has a long way to go in a country that remains largely conservative in its beliefs and ways, owing to its deep roots in the Roman Catholic religion. Also, the Family Code explicitly states marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The Sogie Equality Bill also does not contain a provision that will penalize Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin. The 1987 Constitution also guarantees that Filipinos have the right to practice their religion–and that includes their beliefs—without interference or discrimination.

LGBTQ+ advocates and supporters want the bill enacted into law because they find it necessary to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ people as they face discrimination and prejudice in various aspects of their lives.

If a religious fundamentalist thinks that homosexuality is a sin, then so let the person think that way. It is difficult to change the way a person thinks if he is dead set on his beliefs.

However, it is not right if the person who’s a religious fundamentalist acts on his belief by making moves that could physically, emotionally or psychologically hurt any member of the LGBTQ+ community.

There is a need to protect the LGBTQ+ people in the Philippines and other parts of the world because the “discrimination and hate-motivated violence” against them is “widespread, brutal, and often perpetrated with impunity, and it is even worse for those belonging to racialized communities. They are also victims of torture and ill treatment, including in custody, clinics and hospitals,” the United Nations said.

In an ideal world, no one has the right to discriminate against a person of different sexual orientation. So it will be great for the Congress to pass the Sogie Equality Bill—LGBTQ+ rights are also human rights.

One must remember that LGBTQ+ people are human beings who are capable of feeling love and hate, happiness and sadness, tranquility and anxiety, among other complex human emotions.


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